Every victim of sexual harassment has the right to seek legal compensation. This process can be straightforward in some cases but is often more complicated. There are a series of consequences, right or wrong, that the accused and accuser may be subjected to during the process. Here’s what you need to know about both.
Consequences for the Harasser
When a harasser is found guilty, the obvious consequence is usually termination. Sexual harassment is a prohibited action under state and federal laws, often classified as a form of gender discrimination. The perpetrator can face legal fines and even jail time in addition to losing their job.
However, the majority of consequences are often handed out by their employer. This happens because the company is more often than not held responsible for the actions of their employees and the type of environment or culture they cultivate.
Employers, when found guilty of allowing the harassment to take place, are usually required to make and implement policy changes in addition to paying the victim damages. They can also be sued again in a civil lawsuit for additional monetary damages. Google just settled a sexual misconduct case for $310 million in 2020.
Another consequence for employers is media coverage. As the news leaks that they are facing sexual harassment charges, their image and reputation is harmed in the process. Failing to handle the situation properly through press releases or statements can further tarnish their brand. For proof, look not further than the recent Activision Blizzard case.
Consequences for the Victim
Under the law, retaliation against an employee filing a sexual harassment claim is illegal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop it from happening. Just ask this California sexual harassment lawyer about how quickly a case can grow to include seeking compensation for retaliation.
While victims do have the legal means to seek restitution against any retaliatory actions, and sometimes monetary or other forms of compensation, they should be prepared to face unjust consequences for doing the right thing. Forms of employer retaliation can include:
· Termination from the company
· A demotion
· Reductions in pay
· Losing benefits
· Denial of a promotion
All of the above are designed to silence the employee, hoping the victim will stop pursuing the correct legal action in an attempt to protect the company’s image and coverup the abuse. All of it is highly illegal. So, speak with your attorney if you’re being retaliated against.
Just this year, PS Tree in Massachusetts retaliated against a teen employee for participating in the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation into the tree service company. The owner intimidated and threatened the teen along with the teen’s legal guardian via text. It sounds outlandish, but it happens more than you might think in all sorts of cases.
Another consequence could be a constructive discharge, which simply means the employee must leave their job due to the hostile nature of their work environment. You can seek compensation for this through the court as well by working with your attorney to address the nature of your leave.